Is Joint Legal and Physical Custody in the Best Interest of Children?

Gone the days of the Tender Years Doctrine that permeated through Family Law Courts across the country for decades. As of 2020, there have been over 125 empirical studies that show that some form of joint physical custody is by far the best for children of all ages. In the 1990's studies began shifting away from a Sole Physical Custody arrangement to Joint Physical Custody. Still left over from different times, there has been a stigma regarding physical custody, with most people believing that simply because parents are divorcing that the children should live with Mom. This is simply no longer the case.

The modern-day California Family Code generally prefers Joint Physical Custody, or, at minimum, frequent and continuing contact with both parents unless there a valid excuse and strong evidence against joint physical custody exists. Reasons could range anywhere from one parent is abusive or neglectful, to the parents simply live too far apart.

There have been significant recent findings that support Joint Physical Custody, including these children usually faring better than the children in Sole Physical Custody arrangements, in the following areas:

  • Academics, including graduating high school and college at higher rates

  • Emotional health, including healthier intimate partner relationships as adults

  • Physical health, including avoiding teen pregnancy and obesity at higher rates

  • Behavioral problems including being less likely to be incarcerated

Additionally, parents who share a Joint Physical Custody timeshare are a lesser percentage of the families who return to court for modifications. This does not necessarily mean that Joint Physical Custody is only for parents who are great at co-parenting, or whose case is low-conflict. Parents in high-conflict issues who continue to share Joint Physical Custody have been found to parent with less conflict than similar high conflict situations where one parent, typically the mother, is granted primary physical custody.

Children of high-conflict issues usually benefit from joint timeshare arrangements. Through the conflict between their parents, the children continue to feel loved by both parents. Emotional security is established and both parents send the clear message to the children that they are important. Children’s self-esteem remains in-tact. Further, research shows that children prefer having clear and constant access to both of their parents.

Parents who consider a Joint Physical Custody arrangement are often concerned about their children’s adaptability to having two seperate homes and how difficult the transition will be. Studies have consistently shown that children living in two households, even in parallel parenting situations are rarely confused. Children who feel secure are usually surprisingly resilient and favor spending frequent time with both parents, over living with one parent in intervals.

If you live in Orange, Riverside, or San Bernardino Counties or Greater Southern California and have questions about pursuing Joint Physical Custody, Call "The Fathers Rights Attorney" and the Reel Fathers Rights Team Today at 951-223-1058 or book a consultation free, no obligation consultation here.